Banana leaves are still very popular for serving food in south India, but it is equally important to understand why it was used initially.
It was very common for big leaves to be used for serving food before plates made of metal became a mainstay. In early times in India reusing vessels to eat was considered unhygienic as different people would end up using the same plate over a while. So they thought it was more hygienic to use leaves that were disposable rather than using wooden utensils. Now as far as selecting a leaf was concerned, there was no other leaf that was easily available that was big enough and did not have holes. So banana leaf was used for eating.
The first and foremost reason why the banana leaf is used for serving food is because of its wide size and the partition that runs at the center which gives enough space to place a variety of foods in a single leaf without mixing. As Indian lunches are diverse and have many courses, only banana leaf can accommodate all courses and it is waterproof too, which is very helpful for eating liquid dishes like Sambar, Rasam, curd, and Payasam.
It is said that eating on a banana leaf is very beneficial, let’s have a look at the below pointers:
Benefits of eating on banana leaf:
- Tamilians consider it to be an act of respect to serving the guests in banana leaf.
- Tender leaves are flexible and can be folded at any angle.
- These leaves are non-sticky and so it is used for lining steamer trays
- One of the major benefits of this leaf is that they are biodegradable and it won’t be a problem to discard them. Even burning these leaves is not harmful to the atmosphere.
- Eating hot food on this leaf is very healthy and hygienic. While the hot food is served on the leaf, rich nutrients from the leaf are emitted, which infuses with the food and eventually we intake it as we eat the food.
- These leaves are rich in polyphenols such as epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is found in green tea.
- Polyphenols are natural antioxidants found in many plant-based foods. So eating a plantain tree increases the EGCG level in our body and slows down the process of aging.